London, British Library, MS Additional 15350 / Codex
London, British Library, MS Additional 15350 is a mid twelfth-century cartulary
known as the Codex Wintoniensis, or ‘Winchester Book’. It
was compiled at the Old Minster, Winchester, and is generally considered,
thanks to the lavish decorative scheme, to be one of the finest cartularies
to survive from pre-Reformation England. Comprising some 119 folios, it was
constructed in several stages, between the second quarter of the twelfth
century and the second half of the fourteenth. For the purposes of clarifying
its history, three phases may be distinguished:
- Cod. Wint. I (fols. 9–11v, 13v–67r and 67v–110):
the core component of the book, which consists of transcripts of
Anglo-Saxon documents that represent, so it appears, the pre-conquest
endowment of Winchester Cathedral. It was made in 1129×1139, at an
early point in the reign of Henry of Blois, bishop of Winchester (1129–71),
with the intention of obtaining the restoration of the lands that had comprised
the pre-Conquest endowment of the cathedral. As the brother of King Stephen,
Henry was well-placed to obtain what he wanted. The Old Minster—Winchester’s
said to have been founded in 684 by Cenwalh, king of West Saxons (642–72),
but the earliest grant recorded here dates from the brief reign
of Cædwalla (685–8) whilst the latest dates from 1046, during the
reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–65).
- Cod. Wint. II consists of folios and materials added at various
points in the twelfth century. It includes many items that could have been included in Cod. Wint. I, but which were left out of the original compilation. One distinct group among
them concerns Anglo-Saxon grants of tenements within Winchester and
may be contemporary with a survey of the city carried out in 1148.
- Cod. Wint. III consists of thirteenth- and fourteenth-century additions
of folios and documents to the cartulary.
Some sixteen scribes have been identified, but Cod. Wint. I, the component
most relevant for present purposes, was largely the work of ‘Scribe A’,
whose hand is typical of Winchester manuscripts dating from second quarter
of the twelfth century. His writing has been described by Alexander
Rumble as ‘a fine, regular Latin bookscript (protogothic textualis
formata) which is large, round, and generally upright in appearance’ (Property
and Piety, p. 6). The same hand also occurs in another manuscript
from this period—Winchester Cathedral Library, MS 5, fols. 137–147v
and 159–224v—a copy of Jerome’s Commentary on Isaiah.
After the illuminated initial that signals the opening of a new document,
the scribe renders the first line in a display script of mixed square and rustic
capitals and uncials. The second is rendered in rustic capitals. Standard
miniscule script takes over in the third line. He deployed a different
type of script for the vernacular material (i.e. the charter bounds) which
is more angular and which involves the use of some special letter-forms,
but as Rumble explains in more detail, his command of Old English (he confuses
the letter forms æ and e) and understanding of the insular
scripts that been developed to record Old English was relatively weak.
He chose not to use the insular form of a, but did use round-backed d;
insular f, g (which
has a hook-shaped descender), h, r, and often s (long),
also æ, þ, ð, [wynn], and y.
He also uses rustic capitals are used as well as Ð and enlarged
forms of æ, þ, ð, [wynn].
He is reckoned a faithful copyist, but he does sometimes alter the titles
attached to the names in the witness lists. He designates various thegns
(ministri) as ealdormen (duces), for example, apparently because
he wished to give the lists a greater uniformity in keeping
with the aesthetic requirements of the book’s patron rather than
because he wished to deceive his readers.
A collaborator as well as a continuator of scribe A’s work, scribe B
was responsible for entering the rubrics which appear at the head of several
documents (e.g. the grant of Easton at fols. 72v–73r) and for correcting
much of Cod. Wint. I. He was responsible for the earliest of the many
additions that comprise Cod.
Wint. II. He had several different styles of script, varying
in their formality, but his hand is noticeably less regular and impressive
than that of the scribe A. When copying documents, scribe
B sometimes left out the witness lists in order to save space, and sometimes
regularised their titles after the manner of scribe A;
but he appears to have copied the main text in full.
It is worth noting, though it is not relevant to the present seminar, that the
book still has its original, medieval, binding, which was joined to the
whole with paste downs taken from a large early medieval book written in
uncial script (s.vii?). The texts on these leaves have been identified
as fragments of the Vitas Patrum, ‘the Life of the Fathers’,
as translated into Latin by Peter the Deacon (xiii.9–xiv.17).
For further analysis of the hands, see Rumble, Property and Piety, pp. 6–9.
Online Images: The British
Library’s Online Gallery provides access to a several other images from Additional 15350,
including (1) fol.
9r, the beginning of a grand and lengthy charter in which
King Edgar (959–75) makes (or is made to make, since much of document
has been interpolated) a general confirmation of the endowment and privileges
of the Old Minster at Winchester; (2) fol.
40v, which has the greater part of a charter in which King
Cnut (1016–35) grants to Earl Godwine land at Poolhampton in
Overton, Hampshire; and (3) fol.
102r, whose contents include the beginning of a charter
in which King Eadwig (955–59) grants to Æthelhild, the daughter
of Edward the Elder, land at Droxford in Hampshire.
Items for Discussion:
- Grant by King Edgar of Withiel Florey, Somerset,
to his man Cenwulf (fol. 25rv; Sawyer 697). This is a copy, and
probably a direct copy, of the original charter now preserved as London,
British Library, Harley Ch. 43, C.2. The text is inserted amid other
materials relating to the Minster’s
holdings in Somerset. An image of folio 25r, comprising the text of the
charter as far as to woddan beorge, towards the beginning of the
Old English boundary clause, is available from the British
Library’s Online Gallery.
- Grant by King Edgar of Easton, Hampshire, to Bishop
Beorhthelm of Winchester (fols. 72v–73r; Sawyer 695). The
original having been lost, this is the
only surviving record of the grant to Beorhthelm, who was briefly bishop
from 960 to 963, of the large estate at Easton,
which was situated immediately to the north and east of the city of
Winchester. Though the document describes the estate as a certain particle
of rural land (aliqua ruris particula), its valuation at seven-and-a-half
hides indicates that it was a substantial property. The grant
dates from before the Benedictine reform of the Old Minster (964), and
as Rumble explains, it appears to have been made for the bishop’s
own benefit. The estate was evidently to be treated as his personal bookland,
rather than as an endowment for the benefit of his church. It is a witness
to the culture of the clerical establishment that would soon be swept
away by Bishop Æthelwold (963–84).
the prehistory of this estate can be reconstructed from Sawyer 1275,
an authentic charter issued by Bishop Ealhferth between 871 and 877 in
which he leased part of this land to a dux called Cuthred and
his wife Wulfthryth. This estate was to revert to the church at Winchester
when the lease of three lives had expired. It is difficult to square
the contents of this record with those of the present document. One explanation
might be that the land granted to Cuthred had fallen into the hands of
the king and it was now being restored to the bishop of Winchester, but
it not difficult to imagine other scenarios.
The text of Sawyer 695 is
printed in (1) J. M. Kemble (ed.), Codex
Diplomaticus Aevi Saxonici,
6 vols. (London, 1839–48) [34MU5 Enquiries], no. 1230; (2) W.
de G. Birch, Cartularium Saxonicum:
A Collection of Charters Relating to Anglo-Saxon History, 3 vols.
and index (London, 1885–99), no. 1076; and now (3) A.
R. Rumble (ed.), Property and Piety in Early Medieval Winchester:
Documents Relating to the Topography of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman City
and its Minsters, Winchester
Studies 4.3 (Oxford, 2002), no. XXII [MWCM.K], who provides an excellent
translation, a clear map and a thorough commentary.
As a useful preparatory
exercise, students should download the text from the Moodle Website, and break it down into its component sections after the example set by Rebecca Rushforth’s analysis of Sawyer 697.
Commentary (for Sawyer 695)
- Finberg, H. P. R., The Early Charters of the Wessex, Studies in Early
English History 3 (Leicester, 1964), no. 95 (authentic). MVC.C.
- Franklin, M. J. (ed.), English Episcopal Acta, vol. 8, Winchester,
1070–1204 (Oxford, 1993). MVE.K.
- Hart, C. R., ‘The Codex Wintoniensis and the King’s Haligdom’,
in J. Thirsk (ed.), Land, Church and People: Essays presented to Prof. H.
P. R. Finberg, Agricultural History Review 18, Supplement (Reading, 1970),
pp. 7–38 (at p. 32). MU7.
- Keynes, S. D., The Diplomas of Æthelred ‘the Unready’ 978–1016:
A Study in their Use as Historical Evidence, Cambridge Studies in Medieval
Life and Thought, 3rd ser. 13 (Cambridge, 1980), pp. 234–5,
239, and 245 (on the alteration of the status of the witnesses). MVD.
- King, E., ‘Blois, Henry de (c.1096–1171)’, Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004). Includes a reproduction of the image of Henry from the obverse side of his seal.
- Robertson, A. J. (ed.), Anglo-Saxon Charters (2nd edn, Cambridge,
1956), no. 14 (pp. 26–27 and 286–8):
prints and translates Sawyer 1275.
- Rumble, A. R., ‘The Purposes of the Codex Wintoniensis’, Proceedings
of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies, 4 (1981), 153–66.
- Rumble, A. R. (ed.), Property and Piety in Early Medieval Winchester: Documents
Relating to the Topography of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman City and its
Minsters, Winchester Studies 4.3 (Oxford, 2002), pp. 5–9 (for a description of
the manuscript and an excellent analysis of the palaeography of the hands).
- The Electronic Sawyer, no. 695.
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